Diagnostic imaging provides a visual display of organs or tissues in order for your physician to make treatment decisions. For your convenience we provide Computed Tomography (CT) scans, which use x-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans. PET scans use very low radiation to generate a picture of your body and organs.
A PET scan can show the extent of your disease. For patients whose cancer is newly diagnosed, it is important to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body so that appropriate treatment can be started. This is called Staging. A PET scan images the entire body, from your head to your toes, in a single appointment. By using PET scans patients can often avoid going through painful, costly, and invasive surgery.
A PET scan can also help physicians monitor the treatment of disease. For example, chemotherapy leads to changes in your cancer; the goal is to stop its growth and to kill the bad cells. A PET scan allows your physician to see these changes in a way that has never before been possible. This is because the radioactive medicine that is used for these scans is mixed with sugar. Your body’s natural tendency is to absorb sugar. As your body absorbs the sugar, it also absorbs the radioactive medicine. If your cancer/tumor is already dead or dying, it will not absorb the sugar and radioactive medicine. This gives physicians an alternative technique to evaluate treatments earlier, perhaps even leading to modifications in treatment.
Another use for PET scans is after your cancer treatment is complete. A PET scan allows the physician to see if your cancer has recurred. PET scans enable your physician to distinguish between the images and shadows that are normal on an x-ray image or CT scan, and to determine whether there are any active (or “alive”) cancer cells, or if there is only dead tissue such as scar tissue. These “normal” shadows and/or scar tissues can be the result of surgery and/or radiation therapy.
Perhaps most importantly, a PET scan puts time on your side. The earlier the diagnosis and the more accurate the assessment of the extent of disease, the better the chance for successful treatment.
PET Scans Are a Vital Part of Cancer Care
The majority of PET scans are performed for
diagnosing, staging and evaluating treatments for cancer care. A PET scan helps the physician distinguish between living and dead tissue or between benign and malignant disorders, unlike other imaging technologies that merely confirm the presence of a mass. PET imaging technology provides the physician with additional information about how your cancer is growing (i.e., whether it is fast or slow growing). At the end of the PET scan, a trained Radiologist can determine if your tumor is malignant or benign, depending on its specific characteristics.